Wages Are Terrible in Idaho but I’m Not Moving — Here’s Why

This money pro put down roots where the cost of living is low.
  • Across the country, the cost of living is on the rise, and as such, many people consider moving to an area in which they won’t feel the same financial constraints.
  • One place that might not be feeling the increase quite as much is Boise, Idaho, which has the 15th lowest cost of living among U.S. states.
  • However, wages for the average Idahoan are alarmingly low, making residency there nevertheless a challenge for many residents.
  • Money coach Whitney Hansen shares her personal experience living in Boise and why she refuses to move despite the overall poor income level.

“There’s no place like home” perfectly describes my feelings about living in Idaho. In Boise, in particular, there are gorgeous mountains, stunning alpine lakes, mountain biking trails, great craft breweries and a burgeoning startup scene. There is just one problem: the average household income in Idaho is just $64,513.

While I am not exactly excited that Idaho’s wages are low, I’m not moving — and here’s why.

Read More: How Much You Need to Live Comfortably in 50 Major US Cities

Low Cost of Living

A recent GOBankingRates study found that Idaho has the 15th lowest cost of living in the U.S. Further, I keep my expenses low by embracing a frugal lifestyle through weekly meal prepping, driving an older vehicle that is paid for, keeping a close eye on my grocery budget and keeping my monthly housing costs low.

More on Cost of Living: The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These 20 US Cities

High Quality of Life

It seems as if every time I read the news, Idaho is being featured as one of the fastest-growing states or hidden gems in the U.S. — and it’s true. Coupled with the attractive low cost of living and stunning scenery, it’s easy to see why Idaho is having a moment. The state is full of surprises for everyone. If you like mountain biking, there are countless miles of great trails to ride on, a river in the middle of Boise where locals lazily float on tubes as they cool down from the summer heat and even a greenbelt that runs through the city for 25 miles. Everywhere you turn, there are recreational activities. And, like most Idahoans, I love being outdoors and exploring nature.

Short Commute Time

It sometimes seems to me like Boise has a lot of traffic, but after comparing commute times with my friends that live in larger cities, Idaho has it pretty good. My average commute time from the suburbs to downtown Boise is about 20 minutes. A friend recently told me his train commute to work in San Francisco takes him 2 hours each way.

Related: The True Impact Traffic Has on Your Bottomline


In 2016, US News ranked Idaho the fifth safest state in the U.S. In all my years living in Idaho, I have rarely been afraid to walk by myself at night or felt as if I might be in danger. While there are still areas of Boise in which I wouldn’t walk alone at night, I and many of my friends feel that Idaho is a safe place to be.

My Income Isn’t Based on Idaho’s Wages

As a self-employed person, my wages aren’t directly tied to Idaho’s average wages. The majority of my business is outside of Idaho and dependent only on my internet connection. This lifestyle is becoming more popular, in general. We’re seeing a shift in jobs becoming more flexible, offering remote work and contract positions, and a lot of people starting their own online businesses that don’t require you to go into a physical office space.

This shift is particularly interesting because it completely impacts the way we work and the places we can live. Because my income is not directly dependent on the average wages in Idaho, I can take advantage of the low cost of living and build a good financial foundation at the same time.

No state is perfect. With respect to wages, Idaho still has a long ways to go. But despite the low median income, I will be staying here and taking advantage of all the perks for years to come.

Read More: Why You Could Find Happiness In the Great State of Michigan Like We Did

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